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Are government agencies getting obsessed with private clouds?

by Andrea Di Maio  |  May 25, 2011  |  2 Comments

Last week I was at a large government agency with a large IT shop, running its own data center, and currently piloting an internal private cloud for infrastructure as a service (network, virtual machines and storage bundled together). They wanted to discuss whether they had made the right architectural choices and how to move from pilot to actual deployment.

I asked them what was the business case behind developing their own cloud, and they answered that they needed to better utilize their resources, given the significant workload variations in their business. Since they have already almost completely virtualized their data center, I asked what was the additional value of moving toward a full-blown cloud solution and whether they were contemplating some form of cloudbursting, i.e. the use of external cloud services, in order not to size their infrastructure on the peak requirements. They answered that they have very stringent security requirements, and therefore they cannot contemplate any external services.

Since this particular organization publishes lots of public open data, I asked whether they were considering public cloud services for that at least, but they seemed to be unwilling to go that way, even if they admitted that they could not see any regulatory impediment to do so.

It is no uncommon to find government IT organizations that are not looking at cloud as an opportunity to revamp their sourcing strategy, but more as a means to brush up their internal services. Doing so, however, they risk making their services much easier to compare with externally-provided services, and unless they are really good or draw clear boundaries around what cannot be externalized for security and data sovereignty reasons, they may find themselves in an uncomfortable position relatively soon.

Category: cloud  

Andrea Di Maio
Managing VP
15 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Andrea Di Maio is a managing vice president for public sector in Gartner Research, covering government and education. His personal research focus is on digital government strategies strategies, Web 2.0, open government, cloud computing, the business value of IT, smart cities, and the impact of technology on the future of government Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Are government agencies getting obsessed with private clouds?

  1. Neil McEvoy says:

    Hi Andrea

    Yes this has been my experience so far too. In short I think this simply boils down to the fact we’re still at the baby steps phase of Cloud; it will soon start tip-toeing over via a few leading light agencies, and once this attracts positive PR, there will be a stampede.

    I’d suggest the early win areas are the broader CMS platforms that can do Open Data as well as many other things; web sites are the ideal first candidates for external Cloud services.

    We’ll also see these providing interfaces from legacy apps to the Cloud world, less so than migration of them in my view.

    Regards, Neil.

  2. Neil, I agree that there are areas that could move to a public cloud model right away, but I am a bit more skeptical about migrations, as I do see little interest in PaaS in government, which is where migration and integration issues get resolved

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